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Duhn Oil Tool, Inc. v. Cooper Cameron Corp.

June 9, 2010

DUHN OIL TOOL, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
COOPER CAMERON CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS CLAIMS OF CONTRIBUTORY AND INDUCEMENT INFRINGEMENT WITH LEAVE TO AMEND (Doc. 414)

Defendant Cooper Cameron Corporation ("Cameron") moves to dismiss the contributory and inducement infringement claims in Plaintiff Duhn Oil Tool's ("Duhn") Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted on the ground that the SAC fails to allege direct infringement of the '925 Patent by anyone other than Cameron.

A. GOVERNING STANDARDS

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint. Novarro v. Black, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir.2001). Dismissal is warranted under Rule 12(b)(6) where the complaint lacks a cognizable legal theory or where the complaint presents a cognizable legal theory yet fails to plead essential facts under that theory. Robertson v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 749 F.2d 530, 534 (9th Cir.1984). In reviewing a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court must assume the truth of all factual allegations and must construe all inferences from them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Thompson v. Davis, 295 F.3d 890, 895 (9th Cir.2002). However, legal conclusions need not be taken as true merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations. Ileto v. Glock, Inc., 349 F.3d 1191, 1200 (9th Cir.2003). "A district court should grant a motion to dismiss if plaintiffs have not pled 'enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Williams ex rel. Tabiu v. Gerber Products Co., 523 F.3d 934, 938 (9th Cir.2008), quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombley, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "'Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.'" Id. "While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic, id. at 555.

A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Id. at 556. The plausibility standard is not akin to a "probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, Id. Where a complaint pleads facts that are "merely consistent with" a defendant's liability, it "stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of 'entitlement to relief.'" Id. at 557. In Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009), the Supreme Court explained:

Two working principles underlie our decision in Twombley. First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitations of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice ... Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era, but it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions. Second, only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss ... Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will ... be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense ... But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not 'show[n]' - 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.' ....

In keeping with these principles, a court considering a motion to dismiss can choose to begin by identifying pleadings that, because they are no more than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of truth. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations. When there are well-pleaded factual allegations, a court should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.

Immunities and other affirmative defenses may be upheld on a motion to dismiss only when they are established on the face of the complaint. See Morley v. Walker, 175 F.3d 756, 759 (9th Cir.1999); Jablon v. Dean Witter & Co., 614 F.2d 677, 682 (9th Cir. 1980) When ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court may consider the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached to the complaint, documents relied upon but not attached to the complaint when authenticity is not contested, and matters of which the court takes judicial notice. Parrino v. FHP, Inc, 146 F.3d 699, 705-706 (9th Cir.1988).

B. MERITS OF MOTION

35 U.S.C. § 271 provides:

(b) Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an infringer.

(c) Whoever offers to sell or sells ... a component of a patented machine, manufacture, combination or composition, or a material or apparatus for use in practicing a patented process, constituting a material part of the invention, knowing the same to especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of such patent, and not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use, shall be liable as a contributory infringer.

Cameron cites Fuji Mach. Mfg. Co., Ltd. v. Hover-Davis, Inc., 936 F.Supp. 93, 94-95 (W.D.N.Y.1996):

Numerous courts have held that in order for a plaintiff to prevail on a claim for either inducement of infringement or contributory infringement, direct infringement must be proved See, e.g., Aro Mfg. Co. v. Convertible Top Replacement Co.., 377 U.S. 476, 483 ... (1964)('[I]t is settled that if there is ...


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